04 Sep: One simple rule for success

Simple rule? Yes. Easy to execute? Most definitely not… unless you see it in a whole new way. This past weekend I was in Portland visiting a friend who is training to become a helicopter instructor. Of course while I was there, I asked for a ride to see the city from up above. Operating an aircraft such as a chopper is no joke, one wrong move, one misstep and the joyride can very quickly become a disaster. I was in the passenger seat (on the left) watching him go through his checklist as we prepare to takeoff. Even though he had done this hundreds and hundreds of times before, and we were just sitting there baking in the sun. He still conscientiously walks through every single step to make sure he has covered everything. Why? Obviously because he not only wanted us to have a great time in the…

14 Aug: What stories teach us about change management

One of the fundamental things about any story is change. Change that is irreversible. Your characters will change, the environment will change and most importantly as a result, the emotions of your audience will also change. This is true in any great story and should also be true in any change process: an irreversible change from The Beginning to the New World Order. The idea of an irreversible change is an interesting one and you can essentially prepare for driving change in an organization using the structure of a story.   1. The Beginning The beginning context in any story is there to help the audience feel some empathy for the protagonist and gives a baseline of what the world looks like today. This empathy and context is important¬† because the audience needs to make an emotional connection as well as understand how everything changes throughout the story. For an…

06 Aug: One simple way to breathe life into your story

You are eager to tell a story to your friends, or even your clients, something you have experienced. You are excited and you start blabbering away, only to notice that their attention slowly start to fade away. You’re left with trying to figure out how to end your story, and you promptly decide to just end it, sparing your audience the agony, and yourself the despair of watching their uninterested reactions. This has happened to me many times and also during presentations. Has it happened to you? I’m sure you have, we have all seen our audiences checking their phones, looking at their watch, even staring blankly out the window, while you are frantically trying to divulge some very crucial information. In this first post in a series of posts about story telling (#9story9) , I will share 1¬†insight/rule to spruce up your stories, however you deliver your craft. When…

15 Jul: “Story” more than meets the marketers eye

Robert McKee’s book: “Story: Substance, Structure, Style and the Principles of Screenwriting” is an absolutely amazing reference for screenwriters. But even more than a reference for screenwriters, it has provided me, a mere marketer with some pretty tremendous insights that will directly impact what I do. Storytelling is not just about films and screenplays, it’s fundamental to being human and what more useful to a marketer than a book that reveals human truths? “Story” is a wicked weapon in the marketers arsenal and like a good climax: “Inevitable and Unexpected” Some questions I will answer in upcoming posts and draw insights for all kinds of storytellers: What do great screenplays and presentations have in common and why should we care? (Hint: Something Nancy Duarte found in her research in: Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences) What makes a person sit through a movie? Even more revealing, what makes a…

23 Jun: Is social media just hype?

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: Social Media Fail to Live Up to Early Marketing Hype, the author presents a survey conducted at the end of 2012 with ~12,000 U.S. adults about social media. 62% of them responded that social media does not have any impact on their purchasing decisions and 30% responded that it has some effect. At first glance, it does present a compelling argument that majority of social media efforts fall on deaf ears. Low ROI. However, if you take a different look at the data, you might come to a different conclusion. 30% of consumers admitted through a survey that social media influences their purchasing decision, which is a pretty nice return if you can effectively influence 30% your target audience, don’t you think? In addition, people do not necessarily know what influences their behavior, much less being able to report it in…

19 Jun: The problem with storytelling

In the book by Robert McKee, Story: Style, Structure, Substance and the Principles of Screenwriting, he asserts that there is a big story problem. In short, there is a tremendous lack of good ones. As a veteran in the film business, he never had the problem of rejecting a script that tells a wonderful story but had terrible grammar and literary technique. A good story is what matters, everything else can be fixed. I draw the same parallel to business presentations, sales pitches or anytime you need to influence someone to do something. Wonderfully crafted pieces are far and few between. We have all been either guilty of it or a subject of terrible presentations that bored everyone to tears. Lets make a promise to no longer impose our problem on our dear audience, lets commit to creating, crafting and telling delectable stories, where ever we go.

10 Jun: Technical Presentations #3 – Self awareness

Being aware of yourself is crucial during a presentation. This is why most presentation classes involve a video camera and dissecting your every move. If you have a good grasp of these five categories, I promise you will be already be ahead of the curve. General appearance – make sure that your attire is appropriate and there is no distracting piece of accessory for your audience to focus on. You never want to have a piece of lettuce stuck in your teeth while you are selling a million dollar project. Facial expressions – frowns, furrowed eye brows, rolling of your eyes, be sure that your expressions remain friendly. Smiles are encouraged but vary your expressions to make a point. The larger the audience, the more exaggerated your expressions should be, unless a zoomed in video of your face is displayed. Hand gestures – Again, large movements for large audiences, vary…

#9story9

04 Jun: What is #9story9?

We all tell stories. When we were young we told stories to our parents so they would let us stay up late. When we were older, we would tell stories to our teachers so we wouldn’t get punished. In the work place, we tell stories to win business, get a promotion, or simply recount our events. It goes on and on. The topic of story telling has risen through the ranks and has become quite the center of attention in today’s world of content marketing. I have read a few books on story telling and am pretty convinced that we all need to be better story tellers, but I have some questions: How can we be better story tellers as writers, presenters, designers, artists etc.? What are the similarities to leverage across the different context of story telling and what are the crucial differences? What are the 3 simple things…